Monday, February 02, 2009

Blog Topic Stew

BLOG TRAFFIC:

For the last week or so visits to this blog have been up 40% due to traffic generated by “Google images.” So far I have not been able to determine what has caused this change, or what image(s) the browsers are finding. When people come to my site through a search engine, Google Analytics usually tells me what they’d typed in. But these visits do not show up on that part of the report. Hmmm.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT:

You’ve noticed, I’m sure, how much easier it is to find information in recent years. The world of “did you know the real story behind…” is now open to all. And what’s more, everybody seems to know this. You wonder something, you find it in a matter of seconds.

Combine this with social networking and I wonder how much our formerly somewhat mysterious lives and minds are becoming an open book. For example, you may have noticed the ‘25 random things about me’ thing that is going around Facebook and perhaps elsewhere too. You’re supposed to share 25 random bits of information about yourself, then “tag” 25 people to do the same. Wondering how viral this thing could become I am toying with the idea of not answering until I get tagged 25 times.

After all, 25 random things is a lot. What would I have left for “two truths and a lie,” “I’ve never,” and other such party games? In spite of my openness on this blog, I’m reluctant to participate. Ah well, there’s always the limitations of the human mind: who will remember which startling fact belongs to which of their “friends”?

MONEY:

I sat down this weekend to pull together all my financial records, to see how I did in 2008 and get ready for taxes. I’m not doing my own taxes this year, now that I have a housemate who is a tax preparer (go Deb!) But it means I have to get organized before I go in for my appointment. Plus, it’s a good time to set financial goals for 2009.

I met my 2008 goals for saving and investment (though with the markets being as they are my net worth is pathetic). Housing expenses were right on budget. But charitable giving? Ah, I’m not as generous as I thought I was. The “everything else” quadrant – basically the money I spend on myself – was nearly double what it should have been – so, too much of the money I meant to give to others got spent on me. Hmm. Time to get more serious about the budget, I think.

PHONE:

Am enjoying life without a cell phone, though I know my friends will not allow me to continue long in this state. They probably think of me traveling without one as being as dangerous as driving without a seat belt. The cell phone company was remarkably cooperative on suspending my service, as long as I wasn’t actually requesting money back. And they will also keep that money and the number available for 60 days if I want to get a new phone. Furthermore, they are happy to sell me a new one for as low as $10, actually free with the purchase of a certain number of minutes.

I think I’ll give myself another week to enjoy this respite from one aspect of the rat race before taking them up on that offer.

SOUP:

I took a step last week in conquering my fear of soup. “What!” you say, “She’s afraid of soup? This girl is even stranger that we thought!” It’s not exactly soup I fear, just the making of it. Too many images of Mom cooking down a turkey carcass I guess. In my mind, I knew there had to be easier ways to make soup, but was timid about trying them out. So I pulled out a cookbook my stepmother gave me, called something like “Cheap Fast Good,” and many, many of the dishes are soups. So I thought I couldn’t go wrong with recipes from a cookbook with a title like that. I picked out a nice beef-and-vegetable soup recipe to try first.

The only thing is, we didn’t have a good five-quart soup pot. We do have one big enough but the bottom is too thin and that affects its performance. So, my first “cheap” soup recipe was $30 more expensive than it might have been, since it included the purchase of a proper soup vessel.

The results, though, were delicious. This week, I’ll try something with chicken.

(This picture isn’t my soup, in case you are wondering. I borrowed it from a cooking website, 'the gutsy gourmet.' Which is perhaps the sort of activity that’s messing up my blog traffic statistics.)

6 comments:

Megan Noel said...

i make mostly milk based soups.
1) saute some onions and garlic if desired in olive oil in the bottom of your stock pot.
2) remove from heat and add chopped veggies of choice. eg. potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
3) add enough water to veggies. bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer till veggies are cooked.
4) add a bunch of milk, say about twice as much as you added water, and spices as desired. i usually use some italian blend with oregano and rosemary and things.
4) simmer until it seems done. if you want to add cheese then add grated cheese at the very end after you remove from heat. you can pulse it in the blender if you want it smooth, or leave the vegetables chunky.

this would give you something like the potato soup mom made growing up or something like the broccoli cheese soup. oh, the broccoli cheese soup had noodles. after you add the milk you could add noodles or white rice and let the soup simmer till they are soft. i usually make potato or broccoli but i once made some wonder cauliflower soup with fresh dill. and i made zucchini gorgonzola once that was lovely.

Fiona L Cooper said...

Hi Marti,

I've been wondering myself about the "25 random things" thing that's circulating on facebook - why would you want to spill your guts to the entire world? It's one thing to write what you want about yourself on a blog, but quite different to write out 25 previously unknown facts about yourself for everyone to see. To what purpose? I suppose it helps others to see inside you a bit better, but I think you're right that there's value in a measure of mystery. After all, if we already know everything there is to know about a person from reading their profile on any one of a million different websites, then what would we have to still find out when we actually spend real time with them? I like the idea of discovering more about a person through face to face relationship - it's more personal, more meaningful, more real.

There you go - my random thoughts on the matter!

Marti said...

Meg - thanks for the soup recipe! I'll give that a try as well. And after I do 'simple chicken tortilla' and 'pasta e fagioli' that I've flagged, I'll try a cream of potato!

Fiona - Yes, somehow the 25-things thing seems odd; it's claim to be 'random' when of course people are going to choose a direction to go with it (though I suppose this means you can choose to be very surfacy or, indeed, spill your guts), the amount of information requested (watch out, don't include your mother's maiden name or someone may use it to get into your bank records!) and the tagging of 25 people... seems more intrustive than other things like it. Yay for face-to-face relationships! Though if we stayed away from internet-based ones all together, the world would be a bit less interesting. I'm glad, for example, to "know" you!

Fiona L Cooper said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly that the world would be less interesting without our internet friends, but I do wonder whether we end up spreading ourselves rather thinly with relationships at the expense of developing depth of friendship with a smaller number... but that's probably just the introvert in me!!! And I'm very glad to 'know' you too :D

angiewashington.com said...

I bet if we were smart enough we could pick out 25 random things just from this very post. :-)

Marti said...

My soup revelation, this week: tortillas, sliced, are as good as homemade noodles in a soup!

25 things - he he, you want to write my list for me? Well, actually, I started working on one. Whether to post it or not I haven't decided.